Somewhere off the coast of Malta, Oliver Francis takes a moment from caviar eating on his yacht and agrees to talk a call from us about a surprise pop-up exhibition set for Saturday night at his Dallas gallery.
Mid-conversation, he cuts out for a moment and then returns, grumbling that one simply can't find a competent "phone holder" these days and apologizing for the employee's ineptitude in dropping the receiver from his ear. In the background, the sound of wafting palm fronds wielded by scantily clad co-eds whooshes softly over the receiver.
Only that didn't happen at all.
Oliver Francis is, of course, not so much a multimillionaire with a vaguely Oxbridgean affectation who was recently knighted by American Secretary of State Hillary Clinton so much as a nom de plume of sorts. We're told that owner and director Kevin Rubén Jacobs chose the name in honor of two London-based artists, but Jacobs has, from the gallery's inception, enjoyed playing with the concept of "the gallerist" as popularly understood. At Oliver Francis Gallery, looks are often deceiving; at other times, they are particularly informative.
Which is exactly why OFG provides the ideal setting for (a very real) one-night-only pop-up show on Saturday night, reviving 2009's Jogging, an exhibition composed of, well, you'll see.
Per the press release, Jogging ...
..."consisted entirely of fake installation images for sculptures that were made from Photoshopping Google Image Search results together" (Brad Troemel, e-mail message from April 24th 2012). After being deleted by Tumblr for "violation of terms" in 2010, JOGGING started back up with it's first new post posted at 10:58 pm on 7 June 2012 with an additional venture: unique sculptures representing "some of the most significantly organic, inscrutably rare, and immeasurably valuable products on Etsy" (below article) available for purchase.
The article mentioned, from Gawker, describes NYU professor and artist Brad Troemel's perspective in far better detail that we might hope. Basically: the internet has changed everything in American culture, sometimes for better, others for worse and quite often for the more absurd.
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Let's be real: Etsy's a racket where "unique" and "handmade" are frequently implemented to describe "quotidian" and "bogglingly expensive." Troemel has utilized this cultural doublespeak to examine the idea of assigning monetary value to art.
Per the Gawker piece, he says, "Sometimes people post my store's products on other parts of the internet and call them art ...This is good because art is a conceptual way of making something that already exists more valuable and culturally relevant. I take pride in providing some of the most significantly organic, inscrutably rare, and immeasurably valuable products on Etsy."
As OFG minimalistically puts it, Jogging is Andreas and Aaron and Artie and Borna and Brad and Chris and Daniel and Israel and Justin and Kate and Lauren. The show/sale/event (?) runs from 5 to 10 p.m. at 209 S. Peak Street, and you can check out the online store in advance. Visit oliverfrancisgallery.com or the Facebook event page for more details.